Ilan Rubin on Making Music, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, and The Importance of Time

There are a lot of things that I had to learn the hard way but if there is one thing that you cannot do is sing well while being shy. You just can’t.

Ilan Rubin

Ilan Rubin (@ilanrubin) is a musical maverick. The depth of his interests and knowledge of music is truly astounding.

He was the youngest drummer to play the Woodstock stage at 11 years old, is now the youngest Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, a revered drummer and multi-instrumentalist, and a member of Nine Inch Nails, Angels and Airwaves, and The New Regime. He also once drummed for Lostprophets and Paramore. Ilan’s inner drive to create music and perform on stage is awe-inspiring. He can play a full set opening for a headliner and then immediately perform a vigorous full set with the headlining band right after. In late 2008, Trent Reznor invited Ilan to join Nine Inch Nails and said that Ilan had “blown him away.” Ilan has explained that he finds playing with Nine Inch Nails very satisfying because there are many instruments to play.

Setorii Pond co-hosts this wide-ranging conversation. Ilan Rubin joins Setorii to talk about NIN, Elton John, David Bowe, sharing tips from his setups and performances, CyberPunk2077, being an investor, and more. Ilan has been featured on and in NBC, ABC, Rolling Stone, Billboard, Reverb, Vice, American Songwriter, SPIN, Architectural Digest, Fast Company, Loudwire, PC Gamer, Hypebeast, New York Times, Alternative Press, and too many more to list. Accomplishing all this by 31 years old and Ilan being in the industry working for over 20 years makes us thrilled to see what he will achieve in the years to come. 

We cover a lot, including: 

  • What is the art of drumming?
  • Why Ilan love’s the piano?
  • What are some of Ilan’s favorite sounds?
  • Why did Ilan become an investor for Q Drum company with a longtime friend?
  • What are the intricacies of the construction of their drums and the whys of how they created the best drums they could design?  He has been using Q Drums since 2013 on stage and with NIN. 
  • Ilan’s setups, technology, and gear for different stage performances.
  • Giving technical details about songs from NIN and what equipment he uses for them and why.
  • Writer’s block and how to get past it.
  • What inspires him when he is writing something new?
  • Why he loves Piano.
  • Elton John’s music, how Ilan breaks Elton’s music down and why.
  • What inspires him to create songs that have stemmed from something? What could be better?
  • What turns Ilan on creatively or emotionally?
  • How did Ilan teach himself to sing? Shares advice for others on how they can learn to sing and be a great performer.
  • What person or people are considered successful to Ilan?
  • What is happiness, satisfaction, and dissatisfaction?
  • Why does it always take too long for the roll-out of music and why this can be stressful?
  • The importance of time. “There is nothing more precious than time for me.” – Ilan Rubin
  • David Bowe and Trent Reznor. “Bowie was Trent’s favorite. David Bowie to Trent is like Led Zeppelin to me.” – Ilan Rubin
  • Does Ilan prefer the original version of NIN’s Hurt than the Johnny Cash remake? 
  • His love of guitars, Les PaulsFender, and Jimmy Page Number One replica and what makes the neck profile so one of a kind.
  • Technical issues on stage with Nine Inch Nails. 
  • Details about the new video game CyberPunk 2077.
  • What song do you enjoy playing on the piano when looking to unwind at the end of the day? Improvisations, Jazz, or Blues?
  • The meaning of 432 and the intrigue and difficulty of musical frequencies.
  • Ilan shares the products he uses and brands he works with:  DW hardwareRolandGibsonFender, and his “geekiest alliance is with OWC”. 
  • What it’s like being a multi-instrumentalist.
  • Shares insight into Ilan’s artwork design for his new album Heart, Mind, Body and Soul created by Rob Sheridan, the Art Director for Nine Inch Nails.
  • Where Ilan Rubin sees himself in 10 years. 
  • Why he has a fascination for classical music as well as orchestral, electronic, and experimentation.
  • About getting engaged and just married to his wife, Samantha Hissong who is a writer at Rolling Stone Magazine
  • What plans he has for his future children one day.

You can buy Ilan’s new album with his band The New Regime, Heart Mind Body and Soul at the New Regime Website or at any store online or in person.

Please Enjoy! 

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Quotes from Ilan Rubin in this episode:

  • “When it comes to drumming it really does stem from beats. There are so many people that can do incredible things, fast things and intricate things but personally I don’t care for it and they don’t do anything for me. I respect the talent and the time it took to perfect something like that but it doesn’t do anything for me.”
  • “When I first started writing my songs I was very conscious about not forcing it. If that temporary wall or barrier presents itself, I don’t sit there and try to force myself”
  • “If I have to sit there and really think about what I want to do next and it’s not coming to me I have no problem putting it down and coming back to it.”
  • “The lines initially just come from nowhere. There is no preconceptions to what the song is going to be about.”
  • “I’ve often been told I’m that guy who is never going to be happy because I’m going to find the one thing that I want to be better.”
  • “Happiness to me, the feeling of it, the synonym is satisfaction.”
  • “Covers for me are a weird thing, where when people just replicate the songs that were written… you think why didn’t you do something else? And when people do something else I find myself wishing it was more like the original.”
  • “I had just joined Nine Inch Nails and we were somewhere in Australia and the power went out at the venue which is terrifying.”
  • “Fender did a phenomenal job on those and I record with them all the time.”
  • “My geekiest of alliances is with OWC and all that stuff has really been able to help me streamline in the studio. Initially, it started with the Thunderbolt 3 dock which was an awesome way to just hook everything up to this laptop.”
  • “There is nothing more precious than time for me.”
  • “Drummers have it made. They get to just be in one spot, they get to do whatever they do, and if they’re a shy personality… you are covered and protected in a way.”
  • “The angle that the wood is cut at.. that the drum head is sitting on is a very important factor in sound.”

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